In a move that is sure to win over loyalists, Oculus VR, the company behind the hotly anticipated Rift headset, announced via an update on Kickstarter that backers who supported the original Rift development kit will receive free headsets of the final edition, called the Kickstarter Edition Oculus Rift. The post calls it a small token of appreciation from Oculus VR.
These users will get an email from Kickstarter to fill in their details and get the free headsets. The Kickstarter Edition Oculus Rift will be available in the 20 countries that the Oculus Rift consumer edition is launching in, so if you’re not in one of those countries, the Kickstarter email will offer some alternatives.
(Also see: Oculus Rift Preview: Bringing Reality to the Virtual World)
Backers will get the Kickstarter Edition Oculus Rift before February 1, and according to the post, like all Rift pre-order purchasers, they will also receive a bundled copy of Lucky’s Tale and EVE: Valkyrie.
What’s not clear is whether this also puts you in the queue for the Touch controllers – Oculus founder Palmer Luckey tweeted that the Rift pre-orders will also put you in line to get the Touch controllers. Hopefully, Kickstarter Edition backers will also be on the controller pre-order list.
Giving out free headsets to backers many of whom would almost certainly have pre-ordered the Rift anyway seems like a strange decision, but for people who were unhappy when Facebook acquired Oculus VR, this might help make them feel appreciated.
Of course, given how nascent the VR industry is, this move will also go a long way in firing up the enthusiasm among early adopters. It will make these early adopters, whose support is going to be critical as VR is better explained through demos than videos or text, see Oculus in a positive light, and perhaps keep attention away from any potential competition too.
Cynicism aside, it’s still a really generous move by the Oculus team, in an industry where it usually really hurts to be an early adopter.